Media Musings: Reconstructing the collapse of the corpus callosum

Editor’s note: This is another in my series of monthly musings on the news, published on the Sunday following the last Saturday of each month, except when it’s not.


© 2013 Tom Pfeifer

Current as of October 26, 2013


Albert EinsteinThis month we witnessed a collection of corpus collosi collapses.

The corpus callosum, as Einstein worshippers know, is the neural highway that connects the left and right brain. Einstein has a cyclopean corpus callosum. (I would have used the more pedestrian “colossal” corpus callosum, but a reporter beat me to it. “Cyclopean corpus callosum” makes me sound more Einsteinish anyway.)

The pedestrian reporter goes on to write that Einstein’s corpus callosum at death was “‘thicker in the vast majority of subregions’ than the corpus collosi of 15 elderly healthy males; it was also thicker at five key crossings than those of 52 young, healthy men in the prime of their lives.”

Hmm, only 15 and 52 out of 7 billion known humans? Perhaps not particularly impressive after all.

But certainly more impressive than members of Congress, where the left and right are brainless. Or the White House, where, ironically, the right brain is right at home but the left brain has been left in the cold.

And certainly more impressive than the developers of the ObamaCare web site, where the corpus callosum collapse is colossal. Everyone involved in that cataclysm not only are brainless, but also apparently blameless in their brainlessness.

In the weeks leading to the rollout, site developers and White House officials made the rounds with fancy presentations touting how well the site would perform and the ease with which consumers would navigate it. In part, the circus was intended to stifle Republican predictions of a colossal collapse.

“To downplay expectations would have fed into the Republican narrative,” Jim Manley, a former top aide to Senate Leader Harry Reid, told the New York Times.

Having it colossally collapse only proved the right right, of course, and took the heat off the right’s colossal collapse just the day before when Republicans caved on the shutdown and debt ceiling.

I’ll shoot my foot if you’ll shoot yours.

Talk about brain farts.

Cheryl R. Campbell is a senior vice president of CGI Federal, a unit of the CGI Group, the main contractor for the ObamaCare website. In congressional testimony, CGI’s Campbell criticized federal controllers and subcontractors for the colossal collapse of the computer. Whereas before the rollout, the site was touted as akin to booking a trip on Travelocity, now Campbell was concocting a different concert. It is “not a standard consumer Web site,” but “a complex transaction processor,” she sang to Congress post-colossal collapse.

The subcontractors, of course, blamed each other and the controller.

The controller in question, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, had no comment when asked through intermediaries what she knew and when she knew it.

To make matters worse, while Sebelius was inflicting ObamaCare pain on the masses, the Food and Drug Administration began a study to restrict the pain killers that the masses rely on to mask their misery. The recommendation would have to be approved by the Drug Enforcement Agency and – oh – Sebelius’ HHS. Never mind. False alarm on the colossal collapse of easy drugs.

There is hope Washington’s elite will mellow. The Washington, D.C., city council has proposed to decriminalize possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. If that happens, the General Services Agency won’t have to travel to Las Vegas to throw an $822,000 party like it did three years ago. With first- and second-hand smoke wafting through the nation’s capital, no one is going to care.

The military, which is still droning on, also could come to the rescue. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, also known as Darpa, is experimenting with deep brain stimulation to treat psychiatric issues. I suggest they test it on Congress and the White House first. Darpa’s partners in the project include the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, but not HHS. So it just may work and we can create a constructive corpus callosum for Congress. And federal contractors. And Sebelius.

You don’t have to have Einstein’s cyclopean corpus callosum to comprehend that.



Clarke, Toni. “FDA seeks curbs on drugs that contain opioid painkiller hydrocodone.” The Washington Post. 24 October 2013.

Davis, Aaron C. “D.C. poised for a giant leap toward legalizing small amounts of marijuana.” The Washington Post. 24 October 2013.

Gorman, James. “Agency Initiative Will Focus on Advancing Deep Brain Stimulation.” New York Times. 24 October 2013.

Healy, Melissa. Los Angeles Times. “Einstein’s brain a wonder of connectedness.” The Washington Post. 12 October 2013.

Pear, Robert. “Contractors Assign Blame, but Admit No Faults of Their Own, in Health Site.” New York Times. 23 October 2013.

Shear, Michael D., and Stolberg, Sheryl Gay. Robert Pear and Sharon LaFraniere contributed. “In White House Pitches, Rosy View of Health Care Site.” New York Times. 24 October 2013.

Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications. Reach him at


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